The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


TyQ said:
Dave, I agree with you that there are sociological factors that have the potential to steer the lives of most people. However, I disagree strongly with .......

........ so much opportunity out there it will make your head spin. You have to be looking for it, and you have to act on it. Easy to say, harder to do.


I remember the time when I posted that, and what a dark time it was.

I would say that my dilemma was primarily caused by trying to impose my own vision on life. I had a deeply cherished list of ambitions, which at that time I knew were starting to terminally cave in.

As I said in the “GTD versus Personal Entropy” thread, my life’s ambitions basically equated with my someday/maybe list. Every time I looked at that list, I got depressed all over again when I read all the wonderful things that I knew I would never get to do.

Many writers emphasise the point that we must avoid habitual dark thoughts. What could have been darker than reading a someday/maybe list on a weekly basis that was never going to come true?

Drastic simplification was called for!!

I have discovered the satisfaction of just getting stuff done. And it throws up some real surprises: if I was asked to design a perfect Saturday in my head, it would include a walk in the park, reading a great book, music, etc.

The reality: I recently had to work two Saturdays in a row, and the buzz of getting two work assignments totally completed had me bouncing off the walls with joyful energy.

Bottom line: once I accepted the fact that working for my employer was going to take the lion’s share of all my waking hours, I found it easy to jettison most of my dreams – they actually began to appear to be nothing more than that - just dreams. The weight that has been lifted off my shoulders is enormous.

Maybe it’s a midlife thing, but I think I’ve successfully navigated that minefield.



Busydave said:

Maybe it’s a midlife thing, but I think I’ve successfully navigated that minefield.


Dave, what a great response! I get the impression that you made peace with it all. I actually remember a bit about your post that mentions the someday/maybe list being something that you wanted your life to look like but never happens. Sometimes it seems like nothing ever gets checked off my Someday/Maybe list other than books to read or films to see.

However I have seen the odd sticky note turn into a someday/maybe, and turn into multiple projects, which eventually resulted in a successfull business venture. This has happened more than once. The more I use DAs methods the more powerful I realize they are.


I’m a Christian myself, but ironically, I found David Allen’s book and approach a billion times more helpful than Covey, precisely because it wasn’t trying to do too much! GTD is a methodology based on tried and tested experience of what is best for how the mind works and what the limits of the human brain are. Its modesty also translates into universality. It’s applicable to anybody who is trying to be appropriately engaged with their world.

Now, of course, given my Christian worldview, my Horizon 5 is packed full of Biblical themes, imperatives, values, and ideas about how following Christ and being forgiven by him should manifest itself in my life and what it means for my life purpose. But those were already there, and David Allen didn’t need to put those in his book! He simply has given a practical framework for engaging with those things more effectively.

So I find it to be a mixture of two things:

On the one hand, you need to get in control from the bottom up. Clear the clutter so that you can engage more effectively on the ground level, and thence up to the higher horizons.

On the other hand, you need to be seriously paying attention to and exploring what the higher horizons are. GTD will do wonders for helping you create room to explore and codify horizon 5, but it can’t tell you what should go in there.

For example, somebody mentioned Daniel Dennett earlier, and his concept (shared by Richard Dawkins) about appealing to “skyhooks”. One of my projects currently involves trying to debunk their concept and characterisation of “skyhooks”! So let’s hear it for the universal applicability of GTD! ;)
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